December 16, 2011
December 21, 2011

Sunday continued our focus on mixing heavy posterior chain movements with complimentary, but lighter weight, posterior chain movements. For example, last Sunday we paired heavy front squats with sets of lighter weight RDLs in between. This week we combined heavy Zercher squats with body weight Bulgarian split squats.

4 x 5 Zercher Squats + 10 Splits Squats/side 

 The Zercher squat is named after a lift developed by Missouri-born strongman Ed Zercher. Zercher’s are great for working the glutes and hamstrings, abs and back. They are a great supplement to your deadlift training, though they do take a little getting used to.

To perform the Zercher squat, begin with a barbell in a rack at about stomach height (above the navel, but below the sternum). Loop your arms under the bar so that it’s resting in the crooks of your elbows, with elbows about shoulder width apart and knuckles pointed up towards the ceiling. Take a deep breath into your abdomen, and lift the bar out of the rack. Assume your squat stance (you may want your feet slightly wider than normal to ensure that the elbows don’t drive into the tops of your thighs), and really press your abs into the bar. Concentrate on driving the knees out and push the hips back as your descend, squatting down until parallel or slightly below (if you can, try to get the bar to touch the top of the thighs). To stand, keep your back tight and push the fists towards the ceiling while driving the hips forward.

Zercher’s can be tricky, key in on keeping as upright as possible with the bar pulled in tight to the abdomen. The weight will tend to pull you forward, and if you allow the elbows to pull out away from the body as you descend, the tendency to get pulled forward will increase significantly. Zercher’s can also be uncomfortable, but using a thick bar, or using a pad or a towel wrapped around a regular barbell, will help.

 Now, truth be told, the Zercher squat is actually a pared-down version of the original Zercher lift. If you ever want to have a little fun, try out the original Zercher lift, which starts with the bar on the floor instead of in a rack. From the floor, deadlift the bar up to standing, then squat down to parallel with the bar balanced on your thighs and hook your arms under the bar as you did with the Zercher squat. From this position, squat the bar up to standing. To put the bar, reverse the process: squat down to parallel, balance the bar on your thighs, re-grip the bar with your hands, and then lower it to the platform (for true 1RM Zercher’s you’re actually allowed to drop the bar from the crooks of your arms so long as it’s below your knees).

 The Zercher squats were paired with 10 body weight Split Squats per leg, all done at a tempo pace of 1-2-1-0 (so a 1 count descent, 2 count hold at the bottom, 1 count ascent, and zero count hold at the top). There was some question as to placement of the front foot (farther out versus in closer), but the truth is that it depends: the key is to keep the front shin as vertical as possible, so adjust how far out you step the front foot accordingly.

21-15-9 DB Snatch Rt, Push-Ups, DB Snatch Lf, & Hollow Rocks 

 Once the the discomfort of holding a barbell with your elbows was over, class moved on to the discomfort of a slinging dumbbells around. Weight for the DB snatches was anywhere between 1/4 to 1/3 of your body weight. To complete the met-con, perform 21 DB snatches with the right arm, 21 push-ups, 21 DB snatches with the left arm, and then 21 hollow rocks (back and then forwards again = 1 rep), before repeating the 4 exercises at 15 reps each, and then 9 reps each. Mark and Julia were the pair to catch, both setting blistering paces with little to no rest. Awesome work with a unique and potentially uncomfortable movement.

All this work was not in vain though, as it prepared everyone who was available to chow down at the CFDC Holiday Get-Together, which included a seriously delicious pot-luck feast.

Many thanks again to Ben and Erica for hosting what turned out to be a definite success, full of good times and good friends. It’s always fun getting to see everyone in “street clothes,” and the good food and drink was icing on the cake. It didn’t hurt that there was real icing on a real cake either!

Feeding the Future of CFDC!!

Speaking of the holidays, a quick announcement about classes over the holidays:
(1) the gym will close early Fri, Dec. 23rd, but CF Dupont’s 6 and 7pm classes will be held at their normal times;
(2) the gym will remain closed Saturday (Dec. 24th), Sunday (Dec. 25th), and Monday (Dec. 26th). CFDC will NOT hold class on Christmas Day (Sunday, Dec. 25th) nor will CF Dupont hold classes on Boxing Day (Monday, Dec. 26th);
(3) all classes will resume their regular schedule as of Tuesday, Dec. 27th;
(4) Finally, CFDC will be hosting a special New Years Day workout (Sunday, Jan. 1st). Most likely we’ll get started at our usual time, but we’ll keep you updated as we get closer. If you’re leaving town (or already left), enjoy your Holidays.



  1. Katie says:

    First, thanks to Ben and Erica for hosting the party and to everyone for bringing such delicious food!! I haven’t eaten that well in a long time. It was a lot of fun to relax and chat with everyone! Special thanks to Stella and Nicholas for providing great entertainment. :o)

    I was a bit late to the party due to my long nap after the morning’s 2.5 hour workout. I worked cleans with Chris and Sara at the 9 a.m., and I’m not sure if it was because of that, but by 10 my quads were pretty tired already. I went with 20# (25#?) for the Zercher squats, and that was tough for me by rep 5. (makes me very grateful I’m not 20# heavier!) The split squats went fairly well.

    I was relieved when Tom gave the scaled option of 15-12-9 for the metcon, because by that point I was spent. I used a 15# DB for the first round, and then went down to 12.5# for the other two. I also scaled to push-ups on 20-inch boxes. Initially I was disappointed about that, then I thought about the fact I had already done 50 push-ups that day (30 in the 9 a.m., 20 in the 10 a.m. warm-up), and I didn’t feel so bad. :o)

    Good workout! I definitely needed all that food at the party to replenish the many calories burned.

  2. Steph says:

    The party was fun! It was great to see everyone and the food was indeed delicious. I am still suffering from food coma today!

    I worked with Amelia, Ami, Jen and Katie on the Zercher squats. I did them quite a bit when I was injured, but I have to say my form was much better on them back then. I got called out by Tom for uncontrolled descend and come to think of it, I have been doing that more now that the hip is feeling better. I really need to keep reminding myself to control my descend, like when we’re doing box squats. Worked up to 99lbs yesterday. Damn those 44lb bars.

    Metcon was rough for me, think I was one of the last ones to finish. Way to go Julia and Mark! I subbed C&Js for snatches and crunches for hollow rocks.

    A bit nervous about what’s to come in tomorrow’s class, but excited at the same time. That’ll help burn off all the corn bread and ribs I ate yesterday!

    P.S. To all those who ate more than 2 ribs, you better hope I don’t seek revenge!!

  3. Amelia says:

    Zercher squats were interesting – never done them before. Definitely noticed when the bar would pull away from my body causing me to lose form.
    My legs are pretty sore from the split squats.

    The holiday party was a huge success! Thanks for Ben and Erica for hosting!

  4. Dian says:

    Thank you Erica and Ben for being such wonderful hosts. The party was a lot of fun and I definitely need to hit class tomorrow to work off that food. Fell off the paleo wagon last night I’m afraid.

    I worked up to 75lbs (I think) on the Zercher squats. I probably could have pushed myself more but I’ve missed a lot of classes lately and it took a while to get comfortable with the Zercher squats. I thought the better approach was to concentrate on keeping good form. Like Steph, I have to remember to control my descend when squatting. I’ve been called on my collapsing knees a lot recently too so I’m working on it. I’m looking forward to doing the Zercher squats again. As for the split squats…ouch!

    The metcon went suprisingly well. My hollow rocks still suck. I finished at 9:22. I used a 20lb dumbbell.

    I went home and did a bunch of yard work after class. So, yes, I woke up at 3:00 am and had to break out the Icy Hot.

    See yinz tomorrow.

  5. Erica says:

    I am sorry I missed such a fun-sounding workout! I will not miss Tuesday’s class, that’s for sure.

    I had the best time yesterdy and everyone is invited back to our place New Years Day after class to sit around the fire, reminisce about their favorite WOD of 2011, and guess what their least favorite WOD will be in 2012. That cool Ben? I’m assuming it is so you should all just come 🙂

  6. Ben says:

    It was our pleasure hosting the party, we had such a great time. As for Erica’s post NYE WOD reflection, I guess I’ll be there….especially if Tom brings more vegetarian lasagna.

    I loved the Zercher squats! Although my legs aren’t feeling the love today, but whatever. The metcon was tough as the 21 pushups slowed me down a little bit. That is more pushups than I have done in oh……5 months. Awesome workout!

  7. SBV says:

    Great workout and a great party! That goes down as a solid Sunday in my book. The highlights were the Zercher squats and Reggie’s cookies — both doing a number on my midsection.

    But, I’m really here to talk about Tuesday’s metcon. I took part in Chris’ 7.15 beatdown this morning. Have fun . . .

  8. Greg says:

    Thank you Erica and Ben. It was a great party and the food was delicious. Need tonight’s workout to work it off. I won’t be to class Thursday so it will be one week with no crossfit. And with all the food this weekend, I will feel fat by next Tuesday!

  9. Tom Brose says:

    Great Party.
    Awesome People.
    Good work on the Zerchers.
    Prepare for some mayhem tonight!

  10. edgy reggie says:

    Thank you Ben and Erica for being such gracious hosts. The food was delicious (mmmm…four ribs, and I fear no one), and I had a great time (sorry about the Broncos’ loss…not!).

    [Glad that you liked the cookies SBV.]

    I haven’t done Zercher squats in a long time; therefore, I used lighter weights in the beginning sets. Once I felt comfortable, I bumped up my final set to 159# x 3. I was really happy with my squat depth. 🙂

    Bulgarian split-squats are something that I need to add to my training more (and I will). They really did a number on my glutes and quads.

    The met-con was a little rough, but I pushed through and finished in 11:27. I used a 50# dumbbell for the snatches, and I did competition-style push-ups.

    Coach really hit the nail on the head when he mentioned how some of us will have muscle cramps post-workout. I was a candidate that evening right before yoga. 🙂

    Ahhhh, fun times. 🙂